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When voters in Maine went to the polls in November and endorsed the use of marijuana as a medicine, it was more than a victory for cancer patients and others who say marijuana will help relieve their pain.
For a small
coalition of libertarians, liberals, humanitarians and
focus groups and advertising, the coalition has
together the disparate elements of the coalition,
The term they
have carefully crafted for their goal is "harm
drugs are here to stay," said Ethan A. Nadelmann,
the agenda is more ominous: the legalization of marijuana and other drugs.
At a Congressional hearing in June,
Sue Rusche, director of Families in Action, a coalition in Atlanta working to help parents prevent children from using drugs, accused Mr. Nadelmann and his supporters of systematically distorting the picture of what drugs do.
"Yes, we're concerned about children, but we're concerned about everybody," said Ms. Rusche, who likened Mr. Nadelmann to the tobacco industry. "He denies that drugs have the capacity to hurt people, and takes no responsibility for the consequences."
describes his position differently. "Drugs are not
The movement's supporters range beyond the Lindesmith Center and other efforts financed by Mr. Soros. Supporters include marijuana-smokers represented by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or Norml, libertarians who argue that personal drug use is nobody else's business, and old-fashioned liberals who castigate the government's campaign against drugs as worse than the problem.
is the people who to my mind get it, the people who
The crusade to make drugs socially respectable has no precedent in the United States, said Dr. David F. Musto, a medical historian at the Yale School of Medicine and the author of "The American Disease: Origins of Narcotics Control" ( Oxford University Press).
these groups funded by wealthy individuals that are a
that most Americans still oppose making illicit
Mark A. R. Kleiman,
a professor of public policy at the University
expect their politicians to be hard-nosed,
said he commissioned a poll to learn whether
The result of
this research into public attitudes has been the
the medicinal marijuana issue a stalking-horse for drug legalization.
"My guess is the real agenda is to promulgate
did not contradict him. "Will it help lead toward
has advised the campaign putting medicinal
Some assert that prohibition has not stopped drug use. Others say that money would be better spent treating addicts who commit crimes rather than locking them up.
wants to enlist such people in his cause of
a senior policy analyst for the Drug Policy Foundation, another group
in Washington supported by Mr.
described the Drug Policy Foundation as "agnostic"
objects to stigmatizing recreational drug use.
Civil Liberties Union also endorses the right to
is also chairman of the Drug Policy Foundation.
Mr. Nadelmann said that a fresh initiative on medicinal marijuana would be voted on next year in Colorado, where an earlier referendum was declared illegal, and in Nevada, where the proposal must be approved twice. Other states that have passed such initiatives, he said, would be encouraged to get involved in producing and distributing marijuana for medicinal purposes.
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